Today I went to see a famous giant flowering-plum (Prunus mume) on the south of Awaji Island near Minami-Awaji city. Though the tree may look ancient, it is actually only about 60 years old. Cherries and plums are generally fairly short lived trees, and you can see that many of its limbs are being supported with bamboo canes.
I was amazed upon arriving to see a line of cars stretching all the way around the block, waiting for a parking space nearby. And I should mention, this is a man’s private home! Every year when the plum blooms, he welcomes the public to come and admire his magnificent pink jewel. And it really does look like a jewel—as you approach the site, you can’t miss the billowing pink mass standing out from the hill of green behind it.
Surprisingly, there is no admission charge, though donations are encouraged.
After squeezing your way through the throngs of people, you are greeted not only by the delicious scent emanating from the thousands of flowers, but also by the enticing smell of fried food. Yes, if there is one thing Japanese people are great at, it is using any excuse to throw a festival. Somehow, lined around the sides of the courtyard are vendors selling fresh citrus, tea, fried foods, and of course sake. Remember, this is all happening in the small courtyard of a rural man’s private home. I love Japan.
If it weren’t for the clamor of people, you might hear a low hum from the hundreds of bees buzzing away, busily collecting nectar and pollen. The allure of this tree is mesmerizing. Like a raucous cascading waterfall of pink from the outside, peek your head inside and you find yourself surrounded by a soft blush veil, with long ribbons of blooms dangling from above.
Though I have yet to see the immensely more famous 桜花見 (flowering-cherries), which should be starting in a few weeks, I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing and smelling the diversity of flowering-plums which have now been in bloom for almost a month.
Till next time,